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Outsider: The Life and Art of Judith Scott
Director’s Statement

This is a film of discovery and transformation. It is the story of one woman’s journey from a lifetime of institutionalization and displacement to a place of personal empowerment through art. Judith Scott’s story challenges many of our society’s notions - about human worth, human ability and human potential. Through her story and her art we learn that people are capable of achieving astonishing success - if only they have the opportunity to express themselves in a way that is appropriate and right for them.

As a woman who was born with Down syndrome in the 1940’s, Judith Scott’s story traces our society’s response to disability and how it has changed over time. As a child, Judith Scott’s parents were told there was no hope of their daughter ever achieving anything. That fateful analysis led to her institutionalization. At the age of seven, she left her family and was taken to a horrifying place -- a massive, crumbling warehouse of humanity where people like Judith were incarcerated simply because they were so different from the norm. Children in her circumstances often didn’t survive the ordeal. But Judith did, and in the 1980’s when community-based programs were available to support individuals with Down syndrome, Judith had the opportunity to leave the institution behind and find her true place in life.

That she would seize this opportunity and become a recognized artist is nothing short of miraculous. Judith’s spontaneous development of a sculptural technique of taking objects and tightly wrapping them with yarn and fibers became her signature style. Working on her sculptures day after day, year after year, she came to the attention of people interested in “outsider” art who recognized that they were looking at the genuine article – art with a highly developed sense of unity and purpose created by a woman who new little or nothing about art at all. We can now recognize that Judith has an enormous contribution to make to society – all it takes is our ability to see it, recognize it and celebrate it.

Outsider: The Life and Art of Judith Scott takes us on an intimate journey into the realm of this eccentric, talented and mysterious artist and tells the story of her personal transformation.


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Judith Scott Documentary

264 Diamond St.
San Francisco, CA 94114
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Outsider: The Life and Art of Judith Scott has been made possible by the generous support of the Fleischhacker Foundation and the Community Technology Foundation of California

© 2006

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